Tag: Denmark

The Fogh of war and peace

Saturday, 17 February, 2018 0 Comments

The annual Munich Security Conference is one of those events where you’ll hear interesting words being used. Take “revanchist”, for example. It’s defined as “seeking revenge or otherwise advocating retaliation against a nation that has previously defeated and humiliated the other side in war.” The word comes from the French revanche (“revenge”) and it originally referred to French indignation over losing Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary General of NATO from 2009 to 2014, regularly uses “revanchist” when referring to Russia and China and his candour is most refreshing.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen


LinkedIn: Dowland, Hamlet, Shakespeare

Sunday, 3 April, 2016 0 Comments

The early life of John Dowland is a mystery. It has been claimed that he was born in Dublin, but no evidence has ever been found either for this or for the assertion that he was born in Westminster. What is without dispute, however, is that he worked as a lutenist at the court of Christian IV of Denmark in 1598. Thus, the link between John Dowland, the greatest instrumentalist of the English Renaissance, Hamlet, the greatest English play, and William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright ever, was established.

Dowland wrote Tarleton’s Resurrection in homage to Richard Tarleton, a 16th-century actor, who was Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite stand-up comedian, especially for his performance of impromptu doggerel, an early form of rap. It has been suggested that Tarleton is the inspiration for Shakespeare’s soliloquy in honour of Yorick, the deceased court jester, in Hamlet: “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.” (Act 5, Sc. 1).


Bad news for the Borgens

Friday, 19 June, 2015 0 Comments

Ah, those were glory days for the left. Helle Thorning-Schmidt became Prime Minister of Denmark on 3 October 2011 and almost simultaneously Borgen, a Danish TV series about the charismatic Birgitte Nyborg, who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark, is the darling of the chattering class, which likes politically correct political fantasy. The icing on the (wedding) cake was provided by the fact that Ms Thorning-Schmidt’s husband is the reddish Stephen Kinnock. Familiar name? That’s right. Stephen is the son of Neil, who has entered the history books the only Leader of the Labour Party never to hold ministerial office.

And now? Well, let’s go over to Aisha Gani of the Guardian, which aspires to being the journal of a global Denmark. One can detect an air of grief here:

“From handing out red roses, to driving about in tractors. From tiresome Borgen references, to wooing fishermen on islands. From clashing on TV debates, to red and blue blocs. Yet in the end, after what has been a tightly fought contest in the Scandinavian nation, the centre-right has been voted in to govern the Folketing.”

The left lost recently in Britain and the polls in France and Sweden suggest that more change is in the offing. Borgen has ended.

Borgen


Jakob Bro: Music from the cool north

Saturday, 7 March, 2015 0 Comments

“He balances on a knife-edge between precision and arrangement, and an openness that gives the musicians exceptional freedom to move intuitively in the music and express themselves in the moment.” So said the organizers of the Nordic Council Music Prize last year when announcing their award to the Danish guitarist, Jakob Bro, who’s got a new album out, Gefion. In Norse mythology, Gefjon or Gefjun or Gefion is a goddess associated with the island of Zealand, the Swedish king Gylfi, the Danish king Skjöldr, ploughing, prophecy, premonition and virginity.


Conchita Wurst for the prize; Malta for the holidays

Saturday, 10 May, 2014 0 Comments

The hot money is on Tom Neuwirth, aka Conchita Wurst, to win the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria in Copenhagen tonight with Rise Like a Phoenix. After the gender neutral Tom/Conchita had been selected to represent the Alpine republic, the Ministry of Information in Belarus received a petition calling on BTRC, the state broadcaster, to edit his/her song out of its Eurovision presentation, claiming that the performance would turn the event “into a hotbed of sodomy.” A similar petition surfaced in Russia, but as both nations are represented in tonight’s final round, their peoples will have to endure the “Western decadence”.

Meanwhile, Rainy Day is placing a side bet on Malta. Coming Home is a delicious pop/folk song inspired in no small way by Mumford & Sons.


Undo my sad

Tuesday, 1 April, 2014 0 Comments

Sweden will be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on 10 May by Sanna Nielsen singing Undo, the chorus of which goes “Undo my sad.” But what exactly does this cryptic message mean? What is the singer of hits such as I går, i dag and Hela världen för mig saying with “Undo my sad”? One immediately thinks of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the dark curse of the long Nordic winter, but a cursory look at the lyrics of Undo suggests otherwise. Sample:

Undo my sad
Undo what hurts so bad
Undo my pain
Gonna get out, through the rain

Grammarians would, no doubt, prefer “Undo my sadness”, but that would then force Ms Nielsen to follow up with the rhyming “Undo what hurts so badness,” and that would not be right. Regardless, Undo sounds like a winner.


In the old man-killing parishes

Monday, 14 October, 2013 0 Comments

A recent outbreak of savagery in Northern Ireland brought to mind the work of the late Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney, who wrote a series of poems inspired by the discovery of the 4th century Tollund Man, whose mummified corpse was found in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in 1950. In his poem, Heaney compares the ritual sacrifices of ancient Celtic Europe to the “sacrifice” of those murdered by the Irish Republican Army, which had the barbaric habit of burying its victims in peat bogs.

Heaney was in top form when composing this poem and the imagery of his language is startling: “She tightened her torc on him / And opened her fen / Those dark juices working / Him to a saint’s kept body.”

The Tollund Man

I

Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint’s kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters’
Honeycombed workings.
Now his stained face
Reposes at Aarhus.

II

I could risk blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed
Flesh of labourers,
Stockinged corpses
Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth
Flecking the sleepers
Of four young brothers, trailed
For miles along the lines.

III

Something of his sad freedom
As he rode the tumbril
Should come to me, driving,
Saying the names
Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,
Watching the pointing hands
Of country people,
Not knowing their tongue.
Out there in Jutland
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

Seamus Heaney (1939 — 2013)

Tollund Man